Srimanthudu: the much awaited Mahesh Babu movie after the debacle that was Aagadu. Does he redeem himself with this movie? But most of all, is this the good Mahesh Babu movie we all deserve?
Sadly, the answer to both these questions is a resounding "no." Srimanthudu, in my opinion, is a major disappointment.
However, let's start with some positives. The best part about this movie is Madhie's cinematography. The movie boasts a clean, crisp, and polished look which makes it visually proficient. The choices of lighting and framing are definitely inspired and it's great to see such an attention to detail in this aspect. Some dialogues throughout the movie are interesting and are different (like adopting a village "dialogues" and how they connect to conversations earlier in the first half). The chemistry between Mahesh Babu and Shruti Hassan is electrifying. The songs by Devi Sri Prasad are catchy, yet familiar. The background score by Devi Sri Prasad is excellent, particularly the instrumentation and how it was able to elevate scenes.
However, just because the background score could elevate the scenes, it doesn't make the scenes any more engaging. Let's make our way to the negatives: which is basically everything else in the movie. First of all, everyone in this movie either overacts or underacts. It is mainly Mahesh Babu (shockingly) who underacts and doesn't bring the level of charisma that he is known for. There are places where he does excel but for the most part, he doesn't give a memorable performance. With the exception of Shruti Hassan (who is passable), everyone else overacts, with excessive sadness and sentiments, which brings me to my next point. This movie is laden with sentiment and crying and emotion and it all honestly gave me a headache. When a movie is supposed to be a drama with sentiment, there is supposed to be a level of depth that engages the audience, but there is no such depth, which is a fault of the script and Koratala Siva's direction. Also, I feel like some of the same scenes (or type of scenes) repeat over and over and over again, and seeing these same beats along with the same sentiments, make for an extremely boring and sluggish movie. Adding to that, there is virtually no form of alternate entertainment like comedy (barring some comedic lines here and there) as Koratala Siva wants to engage the audience in the drama but this is impossible due to the repetitive screenplay and the pacing of the movie.
Where Aagadu tried too hard to be a fun-filled comedy-action movie, Srimanthudu tries too hard to be a heart-touching drama, and because there was no other source of entertainment to break the redundancy nor any form of depth, it fails to be so. Despite a decent concept, Srimanthudu falters heavily in screenplay and execution. There are areas of brilliance in the movie, but at the end of the day, it doesn't materialize that well. Now, believe me, I'd be the first to shout praise about a Mahesh Babu movie, as I am a fan of Mahesh, but he just hasn't hit the mark in these last two movies in terms of content. I hope his future projects bring him better luck.
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5 (Revised from 2.25)